Hachuel steps up fight with Banco Santander




Jacques Hachuel Moreno is stepping up his battle with Banco Santander, Spain's largest bank, by calling for shareholders to support his vote against the latest accounts at next week's annual meeting on the grounds that they do not provide sufficient explanation of press speculation about the organisation's affairs.

Mr Hachuel, who is preparing a $70m lawsuit against the bank, has placed an advertisement in today's Financial Times seeking shareholders' support. He is concerned about reports of an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney and alleged involvement in "bond washing."

He claims that Santander did not honour agreements he had made with the previous management of Banco Espanol de Credito (Banesto), the troubled bank that Santander acquired in 1994. His company, Hachuel Corporation, also had a significant shareholding in Banesto, which was headed by a former associate, Mario Conde, until his alleged improper dealings brought the institution to its knees in 1993.

Mr Conde denies responsibility for the "black hole" which led to Banesto's rescue by Santander. He was released on pounds 10m bail in January 1994 after the Spanish high court ruled that the fraud and embezzlement charges he faced were not sufficient to keep him in detention.

Mr Hachuel had sought to proceed with his legal action in the UK, on the grounds that Santander operates in this country via its 10 per cent stake in Royal Bank of Scotland. However, the UK authorities, including the Bank of England, are not convinced that this makes the matter appropriate for being dealt with in Britain.